Name: Edwin Fabian Herrera
Place of residence: La Plata/ Argentina
Met in: Fondation ArteSumapaz, Colombia / October 2019
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org/ @laherramientadenarancuchi
Gabriel Kreuzer (GK): If you had the free choice, who would you like to have dinner with?
Edwin Fabian Herrera (EFH): I guess that implies having a conversation… I don’t know if that is a concrete answer but there are some things that happened in history where somebody has to know the answer. Where somebody actually did all the intricacy of things like wars, like massive events that might rely on just one bit of information or the action of one person. I like to know secrets so would like to have dinner with some kind of spy. But now I am actually thinking about something else and I would like to have dinner with a wise person. I consider some people wise and I would like to have dinner with one of them. For example Alan Watts. I don’t know what I would ask him but just see how the conversation develops.
(GK) If your house burned down and you could save three things, what would it be?
(EFH) It’s funny because I actually I have very few things. I think I would actually just let it all burn. Well, maybe I would save a couple of family pictures. But you can get back almost everything and there really are just some very specific things which you cannot get back. For example, I like instruments but I wouldn’t mind if they would burn, I would try to get new ones.
(GK) Which dream of yours would you like to fulfil?
(EFH) There are so many! I’d like to own a piece of land and be able to build my own house there. That implies having the tools, having the land- I’d like to really be able to build my own space to inhabit. I don’t know yet where. I would like to farm and grow some things and I came to realize that I don’t like cold that much. So maybe Ecuador, Colombia… but the north of Argentina has some crazy places too.
(GK) Which artist inspires you?
(EFH) There is a drummer called Jojo Mayer from Austria or Switzerland. He inspires me because he plays the drums really well. When you get really into an art and practice I guess you tend to become a lonely person because you are so focused on your stuff and that guy would be an example of it. He always travels, he just cares about drumming, not giving a shit about anything else. If that is a good or bad thing depends on the life you want to have, for me it always changes. But yeah, I could imagine that.
And the cinematographers David Lynch, Béla Tarr from Hungary and Patricio Guzman from Chile, they really inspire me. They have been able to develop their artistic work in such a deep manner and they are not lonely, so maybe it’s a matter of personality to find your own balance. But they really got to know themselves. That’s what I really like about art: it’s a path to self-knowledge and self-acceptance. And you got to be really humble to accept yourself, to not try to change who you are all the time. And maybe at one point you say “I am like this and I’m going to do this and fuck it”. You have to be humble and brave to accept that and to open the door for others to see your deep, private self. It takes courage. When you talk from your true self, I believe that the message goes to someone and maybe you can establish a link with another person you may not even know and you’re not going to get to know… but it has to be true, authentic. You have to get rid of a bunch of shit, for example what other people think about what you do. I guess that becoming humbler and braver is a learning process.
(GK) What ability would you like to own?
(EFH) Uh, so many. But one would be the ability to play a lot of instruments, to get to know music from different angles. Matrix-like, plug in a cable and upload the music. Music gets me into this state of bliss where the self disappears and where I don’t judge or accommodate things into what was and what will be… all that disappears. When I play I just get into the music. I play drums mainly and I am trying to play the guitar, ukulele and keyboard. I got into harmonics because of hand-pan, I have a small home-made hand-pan with different notes and I started to make combinations of notes and I really like that. And then I discovered that you can do that with a whole bunch of other instruments. I travel with an ukulele. With music you just forget about the regular world for a moment. I really appreciate that.
(GK) What positive character trait do you find most valuable in a person?
(EFH) I really like honesty. That saves you a lot of time. It’s kind of funny because I am not honest. Well, I think I am, but I am very soft with people, I try to let other people know what I think in a very slowly, diplomatic way. And sometimes that’s good, but sometimes I would really pay for quick honesty. And I guess people who are honest are also more spontaneous. There is an honesty of the moment. I like spontaneity, honesty and being considerate, empathetic, thinking about other people, how they would feel, thinking of the existence of others. I mean, you’re not alone, there are other people and you should care.
(GK) What beautiful memory comes to mind spontaneously?
(EFH) There are moments when you realise that you don’t know anything at all, that you’re an ignorant person… And I like those moments because they are good lessons which can change your life. I got a job in jail working with imprisoned juveniles and that changed a lot of appreciation I had for life, it changed a lot in my mind. Even though I thought I knew some things I learned that there is another world and that there are a lot of people in those conditions. And that even though you may lack some things you are like a king because you have your freedom, you have the chance to study, to know other languages. I realized I had so many opportunities and to appreciate them is something I learned working in jail.
(GK) Do you have a favourite place on earth?
(EFH) The terrace of the house my family used to live in. This terrace had a water-tank on top, like a tower, and I loved to go up there. It was in Bogota in a southern neighbourhood called La Estancia, you would say a proletarian neighbourhood, a very humble place. It was the family house which my father built from scratch. My family doesn’t live there anymore after we disintegrated. We are four children but my two oldest brothers live in France since a long time and my other brother and me, we live in La Plata in Argentina, close to Buenos Aires. My parents now live in Fusagasugá, a small town south of Bogota. For me it is hard to deal with the disintegration of the family, maybe I just have to accept it. I’ve had these long periods of time where I haven’t seen my family. The last time I saw my parents was seven years ago, since I went to Argentina, and I haven’t seen my older brothers for twelve years. I always thought that I should rely on myself, on my efforts and my parents don’t have that much money so I always had to work and always have pushed to have time to practice my art and to study filmmaking, to play the drums… I haven’t been that focus to be able to do that in a more organized manner so I didn’t have the money to travel. But right now I am in Colombia and I am seeing my parents and one of the brothers I haven’t seen for twelve years. It is hard not seeing your family for such a long time, I think it changes your mind and your personality.
(GK) What in your life are you most thankful for?
(EFH) I would say limitations. That’s a contradiction to what I said about the people in jail and most people think the more the better. My current work is with very poor people in Argentina who don’t have anything at all, just a house made of four metal sheets. But despite that, there’s a sense of community in that neighbourhood. There are very few things and so people lent the things to each other. They work with horses, picking up things from the streets and they give things to each other and they have community. They have this because of the lack of things. I think that when you have more things you tend to isolate. In my personal life the things that I appreciate are because of the lack I experienced. I experienced not only that feeling of community but also when you’re able to do something with so little I think you enjoy it a little bit more. Limitations are good (laughs).
(GK) What makes you happy?
(EFH) Tranquillity makes me happy. Being in an environment where I can do the things that I like, that makes me happiest. Being able to follow my practice of things I like, artistically or just life itself- being able to eat something, even better if it is something that you like, being able to sleep, even better if you get to sleep well… being able to walk. For me at the moment a city is not tranquillity, I grew up in the city but now live in a suburb, a countryside close to a city.
(GK) What is your definition of success?
(EFH) Success is being free. Every once in a while (laughs). Freedom is when you are not attached to anything I guess. This is like robbery, stealing from Nina Simone, the singer and songwriter. She is black and she plays the piano and sings very cool songs and there’s this interview where she is asked that question, what it is to be free. And she said some really cool things, very poetic, and more or less she said being free is a state of mind. A state of mind where you’re not worried or you’re not thinking, like a zen or meditation thing. That’s her definition of being free and I agree. By its nature human nature is not free I think. So the only way to be free is to be not human for a moment. When you’re focused, for example when playing music, you forget about your own body and material things you get to be free, you forget all the sorrow and all your concerns and you transform from a human being into the thing you’re doing. You stop being a subject and you turn into an action and that would be freedom.
(GK) What are you most proud of in the last year?
(EFH) I’m proud that I am trying to change some things about me that let me perpetuate that moment of freedom. So I’m trying to be more organized, doing that is a way of loving myself, I guess. I don’t know if it’s a nice thing to be proud but if I’m proud of something I am trying to love myself in a way that love is transformed into traits that let me perpetrate my practice, let me do the things that I like. For example, being more organized with my projects, not starting too many projects, starting one and trying to do it. Because the things that I like to do in general are things you do with others and you have to respect people. It’s not just you, often there are other people involved. So you have to really respect them, not just say it.
(GK) What is the most beautiful thing about your home country (Colombia)?
(EFH) That would be the biodiversity- that’s the word. I’m proud to be able to appreciate some things more… I didn’t give a fuck about some things that now I got to appreciate and that I’m still trying to understand more… but that brings that word biodiversity. Colombia is a very spectacular place to live, there are so many species of everything. You make a four hour drive for example and you get to be in a very different landscape with very different characteristics. You get to see so many different animals, insects, plants, there’s a lot of water. There is food everywhere, you can go for a walk and find mangos. I don’t know Colombia very well but I’d like to get to know it better. I left to Argentina when I was 19 and I would like to travel more in Colombia. But I am amazed by this place here, Cundinamarca, it has a lot of potential, it has incredible views and right next to Bogota, like four hours, that’s not much compared to the distances in Colombia. Everybody is in Bogota eating their brains of each other and the air is so polluted and living in the city is such a hard task, traveling in the buses. And you drive one and a half hours and you are in an astonishing place.
(GK) Which habit is important for you?
(EFH) I’d love to wake up at the same time every day. That would be an A+ habit, that would change a lot of things. Stability helps you to build from there, if you have a solid ground you don’t suffer that much, you need patterns that help you. But at the moment I don’t have these routines, for example I normally wake up at different times. That and being able to touch my feet without bending my knees (laughs), that’s something I always struggled with. For a long time in my life I used to go to bed really late at night, like four or five o’clock at night and I would wake up at 5 p.m. I did that for such a long time and I got so little done… So I really would like to wake up at the same time and get so much done. I think I would respect myself more if I would do this but it’s incredibly hard. In Argentina when it is winter the weather is shit and it is so hard to get up. I was really far away from my goal of getting up early but I am getting a little bit closer.
(GK) What is beauty to you?
(EFH) Beauty is when you recognize with your human nature, with your human eyes something that makes sense to you but it doesn’t fit in your structure of thought… like something divine, something that doesn’t belong to humanity. Beauty is a paradox. You see something that you are not supposed to see, because it doesn’t belong to human nature. Feelings for example. There are some things that sometimes happened to you, that make you feel in a specific way and you don’t know why. Sometimes you find things or experiences beautiful because they remind you of something in the past. But sometimes you have a very new experience and you see something for the first time and you are connected to that thing in that moment. For me beauty is an internal thing. I guess this is why everyone sees beauty in an own way.